Broadcast earlier tonight on Dutch television. This is the official English translation
On the eve of my abdication, I would like to take this opportunity to address
you all. Unity and freedom have traditionally been the driving forces shaping
our country's constitutional order. In years of struggle and revolt against
foreign domination, the words of the Wilhelmus were a source of hope and
"I dedicate undying faith to this land of mine"
time, the unconditional loyalty of the founding father of our country has also
been demonstrated by all those who have fought for our freedom. To this day,
this loyalty forms the bedrock of our country's history, which is closely
connected with the House of Orange.
From 1890 onwards, our national unity was inextricably linked with four
female heads of state. After Queen Regent Emma, after my grandmother Wilhelmina
- so valiant in wartime - and after my mother Juliana, with her strong sense of
duty, the task and privilege of being your Queen fell to me. The unifying power
shown by previous generations was my inspiration. In our constitutional
monarchy, with the Constitution as our foundation, the monarch stands for unity
in the service of a constantly changing society.
At the investiture, in the presence of the States General, the monarch swears
to uphold the Constitution and protect the rights and freedoms of all the
inhabitants of the Kingdom. The converse of ministerial responsibility for the
acts of the monarch is the duty of the monarch - within the government - to
coordinate his actions with the ministers. Democratically enacted laws and
decrees are ratified by the monarch's signature. In day-to-day life, the monarch
can contribute to respect for democracy, to solidarity within society and to
integration and personal development for all sections of the population. This
calls for full and unconditional dedication to what - sooner or later, to a
greater or lesser degree - presents itself as the common interest of our
society. Neither power, nor personal will, nor a claim to inherited authority,
but solely the determination to serve the community can give substance to
In fulfilling this task, the monarchy aims to foster a community whose
members feel solidarity with one another. Throughout the last thirty-three years
I have had the privilege of meeting great numbers of my compatriots who put
themselves at the service of other people, demonstrate their commitment and are
willing to do their utmost for their country. I have seen what creative effort
and perseverance can accomplish, in the most diverse circumstances. Over the
years, my appreciation of people's impressive achievements in science, art and
culture has grown immensely. Scope for self-expression and exploration of new
avenues are of vital importance for us all. The way people of different beliefs
or convictions seek to draw closer to one other has touched me deeply, also
because it is a sign of openness and tolerance.
In all this, the great trust you placed in me was indispensable. I have
shared both joy and national pride with you. And I have shared in your sorrow
and anxiety. The population of the Netherlands in Europe and in the Caribbean
parts of the Kingdom have strengthened me with their spontaneous warmth and
expressions of solidarity. Beyond our borders too, international contacts proved
their worth in furthering mutual understanding. The vicissitudes of the world
touch our daily lives. Countless ties bind us to people in other continents.
This compels us to remain open to other ways of life and other cultures.
A divided Europe long bore the scars of a past marked by war and violence.
Today, peaceful cooperation and an awareness of common interests prevail.
Decisions made by the European Union determine our daily life where this is
necessary or useful. Our own self-interest obliges us to contribute to the
common interest and to the wider perspective of a shared responsibility in the
In all this, I had the great good fortune to be able to count on the support
of Prince Claus. His level-headed insights and nuanced approach were of great
value to me. Through his work in the fields of urban planning, the environment,
development cooperation and culture, he focused attention on crucial social
issues. He taught our sons, when they were still very young, to be alert to
developments in society and to suffering and need in the world. In this way, he
brought our House closer to modern times. History may indeed conclude that my
choice of husband was the best decision I ever made.
Since I announced my intention to relinquish the throne, I have been
overwhelmed by expressions of warmth and kindness, accompanied by a profound
understanding of my wish to hand over my task to the Prince of Orange. He is
well prepared for every aspect of his new role, through his intensive activities
at national and international level and his keen interest in the developments
taking place in our world today. During the ceremonial investiture in the Nieuwe
Kerk in Amsterdam, King Willem-Alexander will accept the imperative that is
essential to the office: to act without regard to personal preference, and to
stand above the interest of party or group. In fulfilling his task, he will ask
for the support and trust of the Dutch people. We all feel blessed by the fact
that his endearing wife Máxima, with her warm heart and clear understanding of
human relations, will play a special role.
In laying down my duties as Queen, I am above all filled with a sense of deep
gratitude. Without your heart-warming and encouraging expressions of regard, the
burdens of office - and they have certainly made themselves felt - would have
been very heavy indeed. I would like to let you know, in saying farewell, that
your affection has given me the strength I needed. In the future too, your
continuing closeness will remain a great support.
When tomorrow my eldest son assumes this rewarding and responsible task, it
is my dearest wish that the new Royal couple will also feel supported by your
loving trust. I am convinced that Willem-Alexander will devote himself, with
loyalty and dedication, to discharging his duties as a good King